Dedh Ishqiya aur Ek Lihaaf

This year’s general rule has been limited consumption of all that is good. Good food, good movies and good weekends. That explains why after Dedh Ishqiya, I haven’t watched a good Hindi movie this year, well except Queen. Somewhere in the middle of January this year, I caught Dedh Ishqiya at Rex. I hadn’t watched its prequel but that wasn’t a strong enough reservation to not watch the sequel. Real problems like tickets and transportation were the pain and bane. Somehow, a bunch of us made it a full 10 minutes after the movie had begun.

I caught it again on Sony Max today. Apart from rekindling forgotten desires for Huma Qureshi, I finally understood why I liked the movie so much. It’s what they say to each other in the movie. So much like watching a live version of ‘Sex without Love’, only better, because of the language. Launde for guys, and bang in the middle of this Hindiness, Qureshi says, “Yehi toh problem hai tum aaj kal ke laundon mein. Ishq aur sex mein farak nahi karpaate na tum?” Immediately after this, I noticed how he slapped her, pushed her hard on the ground, beat her. I also noticed how neither the women nor the movie spent much time in reacting to this violence. It didn’t need to. For all the ‘junoon-oons-ibadat-sex-mohabbat-ishq’ dialogue between Naseeruddin Shah and Arshad Warsi, the women spend very little time talking about love.

That and Chugtai’s Lihaaf scenes. Shah casually slipping intelligent lines to Warsi – ‘Thand lag rahi hai, lihaaf maangle kya’? The yellow backdrop working itself out like the lihaaf behind Naseeruddin shah as he sits tied up and slumping while the two women in front of him become one shadow.

Something very unburdening about not being in love with the opposite sex. It’s like being in love with yourself. I don’t know what that means yet. But maybe it’s finally a relationship where you don’t have to bargain for anything with anybody – either for commitment or for space. A very mellow in-between-ness that isn’t certainly removed from insecurity but strongly grounded in real conflicts.

As the men are left to fend for themselves, the women drive off into the sunset in a red maruti, just like that. Something about strongly encircling their lives without the need for anything male. I missed the Lihaaf bits when I watched it the first two times, because I was too distracted by Arshad Warsi’s brilliant comic exploitation on my jaw. But now that I have watched it again on a more personal level, I feel unburdened every time I remember Huma qureshi’s quizzical expression after Warsi declares love for her or the way she doesn’t fall off track after a night of passionate heterosexual sex.

Here is a link to ‘Lihaaf’ – the short story by Ismat Chugtai –

http://www.manushi-india.org/pdfs_issues/PDF%20file%20110/9.%20Short%20Story%20-%20Lihaaf%20%5BThe%20Quilt%5D.pdf

And here is a link to Lihaaf – the short film based on Chugtai’s story-

Sex, dirt and other Freudian fantasies

I like waking up to a room full of mess. It is sadly reassuring because I know exactly what I am going to be doing with my morning. Too bad I don’t normally wake up to filth. But let’s say I did, that would be my ultimate sex fantasy. Picture a pair of clean, naked feet trying to grope for slippers under the bed only to feel a plate of curd. Now you curse and step on a crushed bottle, now you open your eyes to the dismal yet liberating view of papers everywhere, books lying open and scattered, clothes all out of the closet, and the bathroom, a pigsty.

Now picture the slow, almost orgasmic uncluttering of all this, breathing in every moment of objects cleaned, of spaces washed, of clothes arranged and rearranged, of books carefully organised randomly, of cursing the tragic lack of hangers and of fresh synonyms of high that only a bottle of Lizol pine fresh can bring to your bathroom. 

An ink pot lies broken and you watch with horror and amusement as the tsunami of royal blue ink begins to decorate your marble flooring. It’s a beauteous sight. Deep blue against pure white. You take an even whiter cloth and try to absorb some of the magic from the floor. The dustbin looks cheerful to be accommodating half the room’s wealth. You peel old and stinking bed spreads from its partner and dump it into the washing machine. Two rinses plus one for the nice smelling clothes conditioner. You watch as the mini waterfall begins to envelope dirty sheets. Dump three spoons of Surf and watch the merry go round of dirt squeezing itself out and into the soap. It is oddly gratifying to watch dirt coming out. Almost soul cleansing.

The red bed sheet you have chosen today is perfect for a Sunday morning. Clearly, the sun is brighter on Sundays. The red stretches its canvas out as you spread it on your bed, it yawns now before claiming all 4 corners of the bedpost. The sunlight sleeps on the red now, bouncing its long golden ladders on the pillow. Proud as you are of your room’s giant ventilation, you make your way towards the windows to see the dust off. They sit there like they always have, in books and in movies, of ancient times and recent. A bottle of Colin apparates into your hands. As it hisses open a fresh batch of spray, you can smell the air of clean, knocking out that intoxicating smell of dust.

Now you move to your cupboard. All your tees are neatly folded and kept far away from the main clothes – those that you wear everyday. Your sweaters are hung neatly, all the hanger points facing the same way, color coordinated and all. You open the windows to let Sunday inside. A new pack of incense sticks – sandalwood this time and soon you see wafts of sandalwood inviting more of Sunday morning inside.

You save the party project for last. That bottle of yellow Lizol lemon and bits of surf excel to give the commode a thorough, warm, and fuzzy wash. 

Satisfied but not thoroughly yet, you leave a kettle of water on the stove for that first cup of tea. And now the little cherub of an orgasm peeps at you from the clean corners of your room as you embrace the day.

What would Uncle Freud say?

Sex without love and other impossibilities

All of today has been productive. I wish I live everyday with the same fervor as today. Although said fervor came from stalking women and their blogs. Anyway, one such stalking hour took me to this poem which has made me see sense – a solution to my needless self pitying sprees.

I found the poem on a blog I had been stalking all morning like a hungry cat. 

Sex Without Love by Sharon Olds

How do they do it, the ones who make love
without love? Beautiful as dancers,
gliding over each other like ice-skaters
over the ice, fingers hooked
inside each other’s bodies, faces
red as steak, wine, wet as the
children at birth whose mothers are going to
give them away. How do they come to the
come to the come to the God come to the
still waters, and not love
the one who came there with them, light
rising slowly as steam off their joined
skin? These are the true religious,
the purists, the pros, the ones who will not
accept a false Messiah, love the
priest instead of the God. They do not
mistake the lover for their own pleasure,
they are like great runners: they know they are alone
with the road surface, the cold, the wind,
the fit of their shoes, their over-all cardio-
vascular health–just factors, like the partner
in the bed, and not the truth, which is the
single body alone in the universe
against its own best time.
 

The poem hit me hard where I needed to be hit properly and immediately. I was slipping into my obnoxious self – a past that I don’t want to be in, a present that is reluctant to promise and a future that thrills me just as much as it scares me. All morning I was in deep slumber – inspired in part by my need for pillow talk and in part by my obsession with knowing – answers and clarifications to my doubts and insecurities. This odd bit of truth lay it all to rest in one fitting swoop.

‘They do not mistake the lover for their own pleasure’ drove home the point. My only hope now is to wake up as the same  person that is so much at peace and in love with herself today. 

When Vargas Llosa gave me orgasms.

                                       Some sections from ‘The notebooks of Don Rigoberto’ that gave me multiple orgasms.

“And ever since she was a girl, Dona Lucrecia had felt a fascination for standing on the edge of the cliff and looking down into the abyss, for keeping her balance on the railing at the side of the bridge”

So Rigoberto is going nutty after Lucrecia left so he has this whole different routine where he wakes up really early in the morning to read his old notes and books by his favourite authors. He is doing some such thing one morning and begins to miss Lucrecia terribly after reading this bit of Neruda.

“And to see you urinate, in the dark, at the back of the house, as if you were pouring out a slender, tremulous, silvery, obstinate stream of honey, I would give up, many times over, this choir of shades I possess and the clang of useless swords that echoes in my soul…” – Widower’s Tango, Neruda

“Without transition he caught a glimpse of Lucrecia sitting on the toilet, and listened to the merry splash of her pee in the bottom of the bowl that received it with tinkling gratitude”

If I ever go into coma or am dying or anything, just read these words to me and I shall come flying back to life, full of love and libido.

“Lucrecia also shat, and this, rather than degrading her, enhanced her in his eyes and nostrils”

I had often wondered if good literature includes descriptions of bodily functions – nose digging, bowel movements, passing urine, inserting buds into the ear, scratching body parts which shouldn’t even be acknowledged in public et al. And after Llosa I have happily arrived at the conclusion that that kind of literature is probably the only kind that I enjoy reading the most. I also felt really happy at the thought of marrying him, having his babies and having him write about all my bodily functions.

I had the best time reading the whole nose cleansing procedure in “In praise of the stepmother”

“The magnificent Lucrecia understood everything. Nothing in the tangled labyrinth of human desires shocked her”

And now for the section that taught me what words do and how they become stories. Big, I know but as I was reading this bit, I started to register some words that were used and noticed that if I removed them, the whole damn section would suck. I noticed adjectives and the words that follow the adjectives.  Here –

“The novel is constructed with deceptive simplicity, beneath which a dramatic context is depicted: the merciless struggle between reality and desire, those sisters who are bitter enemies separated by impassable distances except in the miraculous recesses of the human spirit”

I have no idea what shit is being talked about here. All I know is this passage taught me something. And something really valuable. In some sense, more than teaching me how to write, this passage taught me how to read words. I looked at all the adjectives and suddenly all writing seemed to make a whole different kind of sense to me.

“Pornography strips eroticism of its artistic content, favours the organic over the spiritual and mental, as if the central protagonists of desire and pleasure were phalluses and vulvas and these organs not mere servants to the phantoms that govern our souls, and segregates physical love from the rest of human experience”

Wait for it.

Pornographer, while for you the only thing that counts when you make love is the same thing that counts for a dog, a monkey, or a horse- that is, to ejaculate – Lucrecia and I, go on, envy us, also make love when we are having breakfast, dressing, talking with friends, and contemplating the clouds or the sea”

I rest my fucking case.

Rigoberto has been the most complicated reading experience for me. After a point I got so impatient with the complexity of the book and my own cluelessness over what to read and how, I entered panic attack mode and had many restless nights. I cried because I wasn’t able to finish the book. I cried because I was a slow and pathetic reader. I cried because I wasn’t able to figure out if I hated Fonchito with every fibre of my being or if I wanted to hump him senseless for being a child sex bomb. Having said that and perhaps because of all that, Rigoberto will always be my most treasured reading experience.

I would like to go back to the book again very soon and this time around, if I cry it will be because I have fallen hopelessly in love with Llosa.